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Flying visits on the up: business travellers spend longer in the air than at their destination

You’re hired! 270,000 business travellers have made a 20+hour round trip to hire someone

New research conducted by Travelport, the leading e-commerce provider for the global travel industry, has revealed that business travellers frequently spend longer in the air than on the ground when it comes to travelling for business. This reveals a new trend for ‘flying visits’, where business people are willing to go the distance to seal that all-important deal, showing the significance they now place on face-to-face meetings. In the last 12 months over one million business travellers made a 20+hour round trip to far flung destinations such as China or Japan but spent less than 12 hours in the country.

Travellers flying to the top three most popular long distance destinations for business spent a whopping £3.4bn on flights last year but spent less than half a day in those countries.  

Where are business travellers heading?
The US (13%), Hong Kong (9%) and China (6%) top the list of long distance destinations people are travelling to for the shortest time, with 50% of business people spending 12 hours or less in these countries. Surprisingly Australia comes in near the top too; with approximately 134,800 business travellers spending less than 12 hours there, despite the 40+ hour round trip.  

Conversely, people are spending longer on business trips to destinations that you might think they’d want to avoid right now such as Egypt, Pakistan or Turkey.  

Almost one-third of those polled travelled afar to attend an important meeting (28%), and 16% travelled to sign a business deal in person. The survey also indicated that over 270,000 made a 20+ hour round trip just to hire someone.  

Northerners take to the skies more often
Where you live in the UK also has an impact on how far you travel and for how long. Just over a quarter of business travellers from Yorkshire and Humberside (27%) travel long distance to sign a business deal as opposed to just 12% in the South East, and only 10% in the West Midlands. There are gender differences as well: whilst business men and women take the same amount of business trips during a year, it seems that women are more likely to meet an important contact or seal a deal in an unusual location than men, such as while shopping in the duty-free area of an airport (8% women vs 5% men).

Age isn’t everything
Age plays a factor too, although the results from the business travellers surveyed throw out some surprises. Whilst those aged 55+ are more likely to be sent to destinations such as Western Europe and Asia than their younger colleagues, those aged between 18 and 24 are heading off to destinations such as North America, the Middle East and even Japan more frequently than their older peers.

Simon Ferguson, Regional Director UK & Ireland, Travelport, commented: “From our research, we can see there is huge value in face-to-face meetings to foster new relationships or sign deals and UK business people are prepared to fly a long way when the stakes are high. Interestingly, this trend persisted even during the economic downturn and with business travel spending set to grow more than 3% in 2014, we expect UK businesses to invest even more in future trips.”

“And even though there was a slight decline in overseas business travel between 2012-2013, our research showed that 48% of UK business travellers now expect the amount they travel over the coming year to increase. This shows that despite the prominence of technology such as video conferencing, there is no substitute for being at that crucial meeting in person.”

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